Yesterday morning, Chance the Rapper tweeted this:
Today's the last day my old life, last day smoking cigs. Headed to church for help. All things are possible thru Christ who strengthens me.
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) January 31, 2016
The tweet stirred me for several reasons. It stirred others as well, looking at the replies tweeted by fans that spanned across positions of support, opposition, and advice. But it should also arrest Christians as well. Along the scale of different positions and responses that Christians will have as they process the tweet, there are some responses that should be both intentionally pursued and intentionally avoided.
His moment of transparency is not a time to bring up all of the things that we think God would want to address before actually encountering Chance personally. It’s not a time for Christians to speculate and implore judgement about the salvation that we’re uncertain about in the first place. Actually, if you find yourself beginning to comment on Chance’s tweet with any statement that begins like “He needs to…”, just stop. Simply put, this is a time to pray. Below, I write some thoughts on how you can do so:
1. Pray that he won’t “do better.”
Chance was raised in the church. He’s very familiar with things of church. One of the threats that even those who we esteem as the most fervent of Christians is the threat of self-reliance. Self-reliance is rooted in the sin of pride. As Chance seeks help from the church, pray that he’s met with the message of his inability to make himself better. Pray that he is instead met with the hope of a Savior who can transform him not only by actions and behaviors, but by a transforming that renews his heart. Ask for Chance to encounter his inability to meet the standard of “better” and how that puts Him face to face with a God who instead met the requirement of righteousness for Him if his trust is placed in the intercessor of Christ.
2. Pray that he finds newness in Christ.
There’s a desire for newness in what Chance expressed. 140 characters were enough to see a tangible fatigue and exhaustion with his old ways and the paths that they have led down. I can relate. I do relate. Every day. With each new 24 hours that I’m graced to see, I must seek to walk in the newness that Christ alone can give. This is deeper than Chance not living in old ways anymore, it’s a crucifying and resurrection with Christ that Galatians 2:20 speaks on.
3. Pray that he finds a greater comfort.
Chance wants to stop smoking cigarettes and that’s great. It’s great for his physical health but also for his spiritual health. Chance has often referenced that he’d quit smoking at some point. Presumptuously, I imagine that cigarettes frequently offer themselves to him as a sedating comfort in times of stress and agitation. Likely they do this in the same way that sex, alcohol, gossip, recklessness, carnality, significant others, wealth, and a host of other things do to everyone else who is…. human. With this, we should pray that he find a comfort greater than all of these in the reassuring presence of Christ. Pray that the longings, despairs and stress that have in the past moved him toward the desire to smoke, are met with the greater comfort of the presence of a peace-giving God. Pray that he receives new longings to abide in Christ, and that any past sources of wrongful comfort are drowned away.
4. Pray that he finds community to help him grow.
Being made to be like Christ is a life-long journey that has to be grounded within the context of community. The Bible describes the Church as a body, interdependently functioning in relationship with each other, for a reason. Trying to mature in the faith without a solid community of believers to grow with is nearly impossible. In this time of Chance’s seeking, pray that he finds a healthy body of believers to grow, learn, and bear burdens with, to be sharpened from, to practice confession with, and to set his eyes on Jesus with.
5. Pray that the Gospel takes root.
All of the previous points are critical. Pray with these that they are planted on a deepening foundation of the Gospel. In Chance’s search for help, pray that he discovers God in a revelation-bringing way. Pray that he is moved toward greater intimacy and depth with God rooted in the Gospel made possible by the intercession of Jesus. Not that he finds better religion from a greater commitment to doing better, but that He sees the grace of a loving Father moving exclusively out of God’s own regard, love, and grace for Him.
The astounding thing about each of these prayer points is that they’re all things that each of us need ourselves as well. None of us are in any less need of these things than we were when Christ first found us. Thinking on this perspective helps humble us so that we’re not thinking down on his situation, but are simply asking the Father to share what we are also desperate beneficiaries of. Be prayerful about this. The fact that God chose us to be beneficiaries despite the daily reasons we give him on why we don’t deserve it, is nothing short of a miracle. But God’s track-record of miracles is the same reason we can pray the above things in hope. Now go be obedient and pray!